Vudu Casts a Spell on NYT

Vudu, another new digital movies-to-tv service, gets a huge hype treatment on the front business page in Sunday NYT, so much so that the story rivals the recent spate of completely-clueless-John-Markoff-NYT-front-pagers.

Anyway, the company: Vudu was formed in 2004, and is a box which delivers movies to the TV, the likes of which have been tried in various combinations by Akimbo, now-defunct Moviebeam, recently-launched AppleTV, with mixed results till now. The company’s idea is simple: sell a box which can download movies through P2P, and store locally the start of each of the movies it will be selling, so that users get the instantaneous-on experience while the rest gets downloaded in the background. Also, it has managed deals with all major studios except Sony (devil is in details: not sure what kinds of movies studios have done deals on). And yes, it has some good lineage of former Tivo execs, and other Silicon Valley types. It has $21 million in funding from Greylock and Benchmark. It plans to start selling this summer. (Lots of pics of the system here on Gizmodo)

But, and a huge “but”, it is a box. Another box. Another remote. Another $300. And then, the priceless hype. Sample this from Vudu’s founder: “This is something that is going to alter the landscape…We are rewriting economics.” And this from Brad Stone, the writer who has a rather-longish momentary-lapse-of-reason writing this: “Vudu, if all goes as planned, hopes to turn America’s televisions into limitless multiplexes, providing instant gratification for movie-buffs…If Vudu succeeds, it may mean goodbye to laborious computer downloads, sticky-floored movie theaters and cable companies’ much narrower video-on-demand offerings. It may even mean a fond farewell to the DVD itself.” Pass me the empty popcorn bag: I might throw up a little.

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